On a previous incarnation of this blog I have written about how I am not sure how I feel about the work of photographer Peter Beard. That he thinks of Africa as a spoilt Eden, his muse is Isak Denisen (otherwise known as Karen Blixen; he loved her “Out of Africa“) and half the time the photographs look like snaps taken by Europeans who are on safari.
But do people still care about his work?
Kamau, blogging over at Africa.Visual_Culture, wrote last month about Beard’s “contraditions.” He writes:
[In the mid-90s Beard seemed to imply that diseases like AIDS are nature’s retribution for Africans’ profligacy] This is a position that is hard to abide considering that as post-colonial Africans we are free to screw up our environment (or not), without the moralizing of people whose ancestors destroyed their environment and big chunks of other peoples’ to boot. It is the romantic, outmoded “Out of Africa”-era fetishistic attraction to Africa the primordial and the repulsion at Africa the modern with its complex, intractable problems that makes it hard to have unalloyed admiration for Peter Beard’s art, as much as he has contributed ecologically, culturally and visually. However, I suspect that is the essence of the man, who while decrying the superficial nature of modernity, has no problem doing fashion shoots for magazines that embrace that same superficiality. The world is full of contradictions.